In a first for the AAO, the AAO Advocacy team hosted a booth at the Chicago Dental Society Midwinter Meeting February 24-26, 2022. The effort focused on placing resources available on the AAO’s webpage into the hands of dentists and their team members. Trey Lawrence, the AAO’s VP, General Counsel, staffed the booth at the meeting.

Several mail-order orthodontic companies are heavily promoting their “partner networks” or “partner programs” with dentists in addition to their traditional direct-to-consumer model; and the AAO has concerns for patient health and safety because some of these programs appear to minimize doctor involvement (for example, no in-person exam by the doctor or x-ray before treatment begins). The AAO Advocacy team’s resource, “Questions to Ask When Considering Participation in an Aligner Company Partner Program,”  provides dentists or orthodontists who might be considering this type of program with questions to ask before signing up—such as who the doctor of record is, whether the doctor examines the patient in-person, whether x-rays are taken of the patient, how the informed consent process works, and ultimately, who the patient will believe is responsible if something goes wrong.

In addition to educating GPs about the risk of some of these programs, the Advocacy booth also raised awareness among GPs and their team members about the other advocacy and educational resources available on, such as “Mail-Order Orthodontic Treatment: Myths vs. Facts,” and one-pagers explaining the importance of in-person examinations and x-rays before beginning orthodontic treatment.

Numerous GPs and their team members expressed gratitude to the AAO for attending and making these resources available. In particular, many reported that they would be sharing the resources with patients who ask about mail-order treatment options while in their office. The AAO will continue to seek opportunities such as this to educate GPs and their patients on the risks associated with mail-order orthodontic companies and their partner networks.